This will not, I repeat, NOT be a tearjerker. It’s actually a film review. Or movie review. Or I guess, technically, a documentary review. But I can’t talk about a documentary like “The Kids Grow Up” without talking about my own son and the thought of him growing up.
First, the film:
Documentary filmmaker Doug Block decides to “document” his daughter Lucy’s last year at home before going away (far away) to college. He films Lucy at school, Lucy at home, Lucy at her prom, Lucy with her friends, Lucy with her boyfriend. On the surface, you might be a little bored with an 18 year old’s view on life. And if you’re not bored, you will probably be thankful that you don’t have to go back and relive that time in your life.
I expected to be focused on the parents’ perspective in the film and instead found myself reliving a lot of my own hopes and fears and anxieties about leaving home and moving far away for college. It’s such a time of transition and turmoil. As an 18 year old, I couldn’t wait to move away and finally experience freedom and independence. I didn’t feel nostalgic or lament leaving my family behind.
And neither did Lucy. Doug’s filmmaking captured that.
Doug takes footage from his daughter’s last year at home and intersperses them with his family history. Some of it is about Lucy. Some of it is about him and his own parents. And much of it (in fact, my favorite parts) were about his wife Marjorie.
The film is described as such:
Moving seamlessly between past, present, and the fast-approaching future, Block has not only crafted a loving portrait of a girl transitioning into womanhood, but also an incredibly candid look at parenting and what it means to let go.
Here’s my take.
This film isn’t so much about Lucy as it is about Doug facing the reality of his little girl growing up and creating her own life. Throughout the film, you see Doug project his own thoughts and fears on to Lucy. He wants to know what she thinks about, how she wants her life to turn out, what she wants to do, where she wants to go. In almost every instance, she giggles or rolls her eyes and says “I don’t know.”
Translation: Dad, I don’t want to think about all that stuff. Will you just leave me alone and let me have fun?
You can almost feel Doug projecting his existential angst on Lucy. Wanting to get inside of her head when in reality, he was probably already there. He just happened to find that Lucy was thinking 18 year old thoughts.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the father-daughter interactions that moved me. It was all of the interactions with the “supporting characters.”
His wife, Marjorie, was the star of the film for me. She was so open and comfortable. She knew who she was as a person and had amazing insight and perspective throughout the film. We watched Marjorie lament her husband’s enthusiasm for their impending empty nest time together. We watched Marjorie work through a major episode of depression in a way that was so painful but real and relatable to many of us. We watched Marjorie come back to life and watched her firmly embrace her little girl as she held her hand and sent her off to college.
His stepson, whose name escapes me, also give a great perspective. During the course of the filming, he becomes a father himself. As he raises his son from baby to toddler, he shares his wisdom with Doug about her upcoming departure for college: if you are going to miss the day-to-day presence of Lucy being around, I totally get that. But if you’re mourning the loss of who she was, the little girl that was Lucy, get over it.
Truer, but more difficult words, have never been spoken. I’m the mom who never really liked babies. I’m the mom who couldn’t wait for the first 3 months to pass. I’m the mom who wished and waited and hoped for the fun times with my little boy.
But I’m also the mom that looks back at the scores of photographs wondering how I didn’t just eat up every moment I’ve had with Evan. I’m the mom who relishes every hug and kiss but still feels pangs of jealousy when he wants to spend time with Daddy. I’m the mom who will have a hard time letting go.
I know I probably torture my son. I ask him all the time if he will always love me. Even when he’s a scornful teenager. He says he will love me to infinity and beyond. I ask him how he will feel about leaving for college. He says he wants me to go with him. So far, I’m okay with that plan.
For now, I’m going to spend time holding him tight for as long as I can so that when I have to loosen my grip, I won’t ever feel that I have missed my opportunities and wished away the time. And I think I’m going to shoot more video.
Thanks to Erin Lane, who attended the Modern Media Man Summit. She met Doug Block and received an advanced copy of the film. As a group, many of us bloggers in Raleigh got together for a screening. We laughed, we cried, we sat in silence as we tried to digest what we were seeing and what we were feeling.